The Nanny State Index (NSI) is a league table of the worst places in the European Union to eat, drink, smoke and vape. The initiative was launched in March 2016 and was a media hit right across Europe. It is masterminded and led by IEA’s Christopher Snowdon with partners from all over Europe. The 2017 edition of the index was revealed during a full day conference in Brussels and featured high level discussions and debates between MEPs, industry experts, think tankers and regulators about the effects of regulation on health outcomes.

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About the Editor

Christopher Snowdon is the head of Lifestyle Economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs. His research focuses on lifestyle freedoms, prohibition and policy-based evidence. He is a regular contributor to the Spectator Health blog and often appears on TV and radio discussing social and economic issues.

Snowdon’s work encompasses a diverse range of topics including ‘sin taxes’, state funding of charities, happiness economics, ‘public health’ regulation, gambling and the black market. Recent publications include ‘Drinking, Fast and Slow’, ‘The Proof of the Pudding: Denmark’s Fat Tax Fiasco’, ‘The Crack Cocaine of Gambling?’, ‘The Wages of Sin Taxes’, ‘Drinking in the Shadow Economy’, ‘Sock Puppets: How the government lobbies itself and why’ and ‘Closing Time: Who’s killing the British pub?’. He is also the author of ‘Selfishness, Greed and Capitalism’ (2015), ‘The Art of Suppression’ (2011), ‘The Spirit Level Delusion’ (2010) and ‘Velvet Glove, Iron Fist’ (2009).

Bulgaria 2017

Bulgaria has legal limits on salt levels in manufactured bread, cheese and meat products. A tax on ‘junk food’ and energy drinks was expected in 2017 but the Finance Ministry took a strong position against it, despite pressure from the Health Ministry and Prime Minister. The idea is likely to be revived in 2018.

Bulgaria’s tobacco advertising laws are somewhat more liberal than those of most EU countries. Advertising is banned on TV, radio, online and in print (in accordance with EU law) but is permitted in some outdoor areas, at point of sale, and at some events.

Adverts cannot show the cigarettes themselves, only the brand logo is permitted. There is, however, a ban on cigarette vending machines and Bulgaria’s smoking ban is among the most severe in Europe with no exemptions in bars, restaurants or workplaces and some restrictions outdoors. The ban is poorly enforced in practice, however, and although EU law now bans the sale of cigarettes in anything less than packs of 20, smaller numbers can be bought in the illicit market.

There are no restrictions on vaping indoors and there has been no gold-plating of the EU Tobacco Products Directive. E-cigarettes can be freely bought and sold domestically although cross-border sales are now banned.

Tobacco taxes in Bulgaria are the fourth highest in the EU relative to income but there is no wine duty. Taxes on beer and spirits are low by European standards. The advertising of spirits is prohibited on TV and radio except in a heavily regulated form after 10pm. There are few restrictions on beer and wine advertising.

With thanks to Dimitar Kolichev